Information to consider before purchasing a home in Brown County?

In  2018, over 90% or 7,700 residences in the county are on septic systems.  The majority of homes (approximately 80%) are older than 25 years.

The useful life of a septic system?

County POLICY – Limited Useful Life.  The Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) board members identified a “useful life” of a maintained septic system as lasting an average of 25 years, and about 25 years for a drain field.  If you have a functioning septic system, a system may qualify for a waiver.

  • It is up to the respective RSD as to whether or not they will grant waivers.  Details provided in Indiana Code Title 36. Local Government § 36-9-23-30.1.
    • Interpretation? If your system is less than 10 years old, you may qualify for two five year waivers. The waiver would not exceed a total of 20 years.

Indefinite Useful Life.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency references a study that identifies that “conventional septic systems are designed to operate indefinitely if properly maintained. However, because most household systems are not well maintained, the functioning life of septic systems is typically 20 years or less.”  
  • Presby Environmental Systems (among the recommended systems in the State and County) states: “If the system is designed, installed and maintained properly, there is no limit to the life expectancy of Enviro-Septic® Technology. In the event that the System malfunctions due to abuse, AES or Enviro-Septic® may be rejuvenated in as little as 72 hours, eliminating the need for a replacement.

Regional Sewer District (RSD)

If you are buying a home in Brown County and are within 300 feet of a system of a Regional Sewer District (RSD), you can be forced to hook on to the system despite the fact that you may have a functional septic system.

Map of Indiana Regional Water and Sewer Districts. RSDs include Gnaw Bone, Helmsburg and Brown County.  Brown County RSD is proposing a new wastewater treatment plant in the Bean Blossom area.

  • Currently, monthly fees range from $50.00 (Gnaw Bone) to $92.00 (Helmsburg). The proposed system for Bean Blossom is estimated to range from $65.00 to $85.00
  • In addition to the monthly rates, each RSD have their own hook-up fees

The town of Nashville has its own wastewater treatment plant. Nashville has identified that new areas requesting service may have to agree to annexation.

Questions when considering a purchase of a property with a septic system

  • Best case:  Has the system been properly designed, installed and maintained? If so, it could have an indefinite life.
  • Is the residence within the boundary of an RSD?  (If so, you may be required to hook-up to their system).
  • What are the recommended best practices for septic system inspections?
  • How old is the septic system?
  • Has the system been maintained? Any records available?
  • Does the health department have a record of the system?
  • Have you reviewed the current county requirements for installing a septic system?  Depending on the age of the system, it may not meet current codes that were first introduced in 1977 (?)
  • Does the property have enough space for a new system?
  • If space for a drain field is not available, the field can be replaced but it is very expensive. What is the cost of a drain field replacement?  (replacing the old soils with new).
  • What are the options and costs for a new septic system?
  • Are there costs associated with dealing with the old system such as sealing or removing the old storage tank?

Age of Residences in Brown County – Census Data

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